Tuesday, March 5, 2013


From Goodreads: A vacant lot, rat-infested and filled with garbage, looked like no place for a garden. Especially to a neighborhood of strangers where no one seems to care. Until one day, a young girl clears a small space and digs into the hard-packed soil to plant her precious bean seeds. Suddenly, the soil holds promise: To Curtis, who believes he can win back Lateesha's heart with a harvest of tomatoes; to Virgil's dad, who sees a fortune to be made from growing lettuce; and even to Maricela, sixteen and pregnant, wishing she were dead.

Thirteen very different voices -- old, young, Haitian, Hispanic, tough, haunted, and hopeful -- tell one amazing story about a garden that transforms a neighborhood.

Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman, starts with Kim, a 9-year-old Vietnamese girl, who lives in an apartment in Cleveland. Tomorrow is the anniversary of her father's death, who died 8 months before she was born. She's the only one in her family that didn't know him (and he didn't know her) and her mother and oldest sister are crying. It's past midnight and she takes a thermos of water, a spoon and some lima beans and heads to the vacant lot. She digs into the hard ground and plants six seeds. 

Over the next few days, one of the neighbors, Ana, notices Kim at the lot and thinks she's burying drugs. She waits until she leaves and goes over to dig up the evidence where she finds the beans. She feels bad and buries them back up. Then she buys binoculars. 

Next we learn about Wendell. Ana calls him up to look at the plants that are dying. It's been four days since Kim's come and she feels the need to save the plants. While he's there watering the plants, Kim comes and is afraid of him but he shows her he was just watering the plants. He goes back that evening and notices that the plants are looking better. Then he says, "Out of nowhere the words from the Bible came into my head: 'And a little child shall lead them.' I didn't know why at first. Then I did. There's plenty about my life I can't change. Can't bring the dead back to life on this earth. Can't make the world loving and kind. Can't change myself into a millionaire. But a patch of ground in this trashy lot. I can change that. Change it big. Better to put my time into that than moaning about the other all day." (p. 15)

We meet other members of this community and there's Leona that gets the city to come clean out the lot so whoever wants to can plant a garden. The members of the community meet each other and come together around the garden. 

A great message in this book is how much better we treat people when they become a real person to us rather than a random stranger. Have you noticed how much nicer you treat someone who cuts you off when you know them than when you don't? You are probably more understanding of what happened because you know them and what they're dealing with and you can probably laugh with them about it later. And, seriously, haven't we all done something we cringed about, knowing it wasn't the smartest move to make at the time? 

I loved reading the different backgrounds of each character and what brought them to this point in their lives. We also see the healing it brings to some as they work with the natural cycle of life. It's a very short book (can be read in an hour) so we don't get a lot of details but just enough to see where they're coming from. It also leaves off with a lot of promise for the future and many more years of friendships in the community garden.

My Rating: 4 stars


The Mrs. said...

Seedfolks is a cute book!

Melanie said...

And I've heard it's short enough to read while watching a football game. ;)

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